Breast cancer is the most common cancer that affects women. It is the second leading cause of death in women due to cancer after lung cancer. General awareness of the symptoms and regular screening can help in reducing the risk. In rare cases, breast cancer can also affect men.
Due to increasing awareness and research findings, the diagnostic and treatment methods for breast cancer has advanced a lot. It has reduced the incidences of death related to the disease. It has increased the survival rates due to early detection, personalized approach, and better evaluation of the case. Symptoms
Initially, breast cancer develops as-
• A thick area of tissues in the breast
• A lump in the breast
• A lump in the armpit.
Other symptoms include:
• Pain felt in the armpits or breast that remain constant with no relief during menses
• Redness of the skin of the breast
• A rash on or around one of the nipples
• Discharge of blood from the nipples
• Inversion of the nipple
• An alteration in the size or shape of the breast
• Peeling, flaking, or scaling of the skin around the nipple or whole breast
However, most breast lumps are not cancerous. If you feel a lump in the breast, then breast examination by an expert physician may help to rule out the chances of breast cancer. Causes
1. Age- the chances of developing breast cancer increase with an increase in age. Its cases are highly reported in old age by 70 years.
2. Genetics- According to current guidelines, women with a family history of breast, ovarian, fallopian tube, or peritoneal cancer and who have a history of breast cancer related to BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations are more likely to develop cancer.
3. A history of breast cancer or breast lumps- Women who have the medical history of previous breast cancer or non-cancerous breast lump are more likely to develop breast cancer than those who have no such history.
4. Dense breast tissue- Women having more dense breasts are more likely to contract breast cancer.
5. Estrogen exposure and breastfeeding- women who have extended exposure to estrogen are more at risk of breast cancer, such as menarche or menopause or breastfeeding.
6. Bodyweight- obese women, usually after menopause, have a higher chance of developing breast cancer, probably due to increased estrogen levels and high sugar intake.
7. Alcohol consumption- A higher consumption of alcohol is at higher risk of breast cancer development than light drinkers.
8. Radiation exposure-Undergoing radiation treatment for different cancer may increase the risk of developing breast cancer.
9. Hormone treatments- According to the NCI, oral contraceptives may elevate the risk of breast cancer. According to the studies conducted by ACS, hormone replacement therapy (HRT), particularly estrogen-progesterone therapy (EPT), is associated with a raised risk of breast cancer. Diagnosis:
Breast cancer is diagnosed by the following methods-
1. Breast exam-The doctor will physically examine the breasts for lumps and other symptoms in different positions, such as above their head or by their sides.
2. Imaging tests-Several tests are needed to detect breast cancer-
• Mammogram- It is an X-ray test used to produce images to find out any lumps or abnormalities.
• Ultrasound- It utilizes sound waves to differentiate between a solid mass and a fluid-filled cyst.
• MRI: it is helpful to study the images of the breast to identify cancer or other abnormalities. It is often combined with ultrasound and mammograms as a screening tool for those who have a higher risk of breast cancer.
3. Biopsy- In this test, a sample of tissue is extracted from the breast and sends it for laboratory analysis. Treatment:
The main treatment options include:
1. Radiation therapy- In this therapy, high-powered beams of energy, such as X-rays and protons, are utilized to destroy cancer cells.
2. Surgery- the cancer cells are removed by Lumpectomy, Mastectomy, Sentinel node biopsy, and total mastectomy by a plastic surgeon
3. Biological therapy, or targeted drug therapy- Targeted drug treatments are used to attack specific abnormalities within cancer cells.
4. Hormone therapy- it is also termed as hormone-blocking therapy, used to treat breast cancers, sensitive to hormones. It is also used before or after surgery or other cancer treatments to reduce the chance of relapse of disease.
5. Chemotherapy-It is sometimes given before surgery to treat larger breast tumors to shrink a tumor to a size. It is also used in cases of cancer in which has already spread to other parts of the body.
6. Immunotherapy - Immunotherapy uses your immune system to fight cancer. For triple-negative breast cancer, it is combined with chemotherapy to treat advanced cancer that's spread to other parts of the body.